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JACOB BRONOWSKI was a useful figure in intellectual life on both sides of the Atlantic, having a little in common with another British polymath, Aldous Huxley. Bronowski's literary legacy is in the production of elegant essays and in a continual reevaluation of scientific and artistic themes. These still remain of central concern.

In 1978 the collected Bronowski papers were installed at the Thomas Fisher Library at the University of Toronto, with an address made by Aubrey Singer (see left-hand margin

In 1984 the Ascent of Man was a direct inspiration for Sir Michael Tippet's vast oratorio The Mask of Time, which also has the aim to overview the history of the human species (see left-hand margin). I

A retrospective conference was held at the Salk Institute in 1985 (see left-hand margin).

This website was instituted in 1997.

The collected papers were transferred to the library of Jesus College, Cambridge in 2014. They intend that they will be publically available.


Composing the The Mask of Time
by Sir Michael Tippett.

Jacob Bronowski - a recollection
by Aubrey Singer in Toronto.

A Sketch of JB's Philosophy
from the Salk conference, 1985,
by David Topper


"My ambition", he wrote, "has been to create a philosophy for the twentieth century which shall be all of one piece." [Ref. 8] In this ambition it is certain he did not succeed, perhaps because his themes were of an eighteenth-century character and deeply unfashionable at the time he was writing. His purpose was to define the ground over which he hoped others would follow [Ref. 9].

"I see now that the problem of man's status between the world and himself has haunted me since the difficult days of boyhood. All that I have written, though it has seemed to me so different from year to year, turns to the same centre: the uniqueness of man that grows out of his struggle (and his gift) to understand both nature and himself."

The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen Moss. All rights reserved.


8. Bronowski, J., 1966, The Identity of Man (London: Heinemann).

9. Leonardo Vol.18(4) 1985